On Tuesday, horror struck when the roof of a South African shopping mall located in Tongaat (20 miles north of Durban) that was under construction collapsed. Massive rescue efforts involving police, countless rescue teams, sniffer dogs, and even spotlights were used to track survivors through the rubble.
Original reports claimed that nearly 50 people had been pressed underneath the wreckage and debris. However, the current estimations claim that at least 29 survivors were found. Unfortunately there have been two fatalities reported at this time.
According to Police Lieutenant Mandy Govender, “The dogs are now combing the area for survivors. There’s just chunks and chunks of concrete and we don’t know what’s underneath.”
Unfortunately, the tragedy did not come without warning. The construction was supposed to have stopped due to inadequate work done by contractors involved with completing the three-story building. Nomvuzo Shabalala, who is the deputy mayor of the municipality, which includes the region of Tongaat recently spoke with the South African Press Association. “We took them to court a month ago. We thought they had stopped,” Deputy Mayor Shabalala said.
Eye-witness accounts paint a disturbing and traumatizing scene. Fiona Mooneal, who lives close to the construction area and was in her kitchen when the collapse occurred, spoke with Reuters.
“It was just after 4.30 (1430 GMT). Suddenly about 200 meters of concrete slab just collapsed all at the same time. The screams of the guys, above all of that mad noise, you could still hear them. It was like when you blow up a building, a bomb. That sound, it was terrible,” Mooneal said.
Mooneal contacted a representative from emergency services who was able to offer some support. “She had to calm me down because I was so freaked out. For me, the most traumatic is the sound of the guys’ voices. That is the part that plays in my head,” Mooneal shared.[Image Via NDN]